One marvellous discovery about Jersey was that seafood is incredibly cheap there. It’s just normal to have shellfish on a restaurant menu at affordable prices. After a delicious crab sandwich in Durrell and scallops in a cafe overlooking St Brelade’s Bay, I realised that this was going to have to be my week to eat lobster.
I’ve been slow to come to molluscs. A bad experience with crab at a wedding buffet when I was 14 convinced me I was allergic, and I’ve always taken seriously Anthony Bourdain’s advice in Kitchen Confidential to avoid the fish special in restaurants on a Monday and mussels at all other times. One of my uncles went into anaphylactic shock after eating shellfish, which further led me to err on the side of caution. But slowly, once I started being able to afford to eat in better places, curiosity got the better of me and I started to try seafood out, realising what I had been missing. I now have a passion for scallops and prawns. A langoustine at Tom Kitchin’s restaurant in Leith was part of the best meal of my life. However, I still don’t do mussels or clams. Or whelks or cockles. And I’d never tried lobster. It’s a hangover from my days of paranoia – it’s always so expensive and so I was scared of spending a small fortune on something I didn’t like or which might cause an allergic reaction. But nearing 40 and remembering that langoustine, it just had to be done.
In Gorey, in the shadow of Mont Orgueil, there’s a restaurant on the main road called the Bass and Lobster Food House, which seemed a fitting title for my first taste of lobster. First we had to check that they’d let us in with Charlotte, and had suitable food and a high chair for her, which they thankfully did. (Pasta in tomato sauce – always a winner with our Charlotte. And this was actually made fresh for her. In fact, in my forthcoming book “Nice Places To Eat With Kids”, the Bass and Lobster will get 10/10 for customer service and attitude to little ones, since they treated us as politely and respectfully as an apparently eminent local politician sat at the next table.) Thus we relaxed and settled down to their lunchtime set menu – a snip at £13.95 for three courses of fabulous fine dining. And lobster thermidor as one of the mains (sandwiched between a starter of blue cheese and wild mushroom risotto balls with pumpkin puree, and a white chocolate and orange cheesecake and blood orange granita for dessert) Mm-mm. It was delicious. But there wasn’t enough of it. I’ll be having lobster again whenever I can. But I’ll maybe ditch the cheese sauce next time.